Qld coronavirus cases jump by 11 in one day
QUEENSLAND'S coronavirus tally has soared by 11 today, taking the number of cases to 46, as the state begins a trial of drive-through fever clinics in two regional centres.
The new cases range in age from 19 to 69 with all listed as being in a stable condition.
All are in the Brisbane, West Moreton, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast regions except for a 48-year-old woman in the Wide Bay region, which takes in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.
As the number of COVID-19 patients in Queensland mounts, the state's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has made an unusual plea to Queenslanders to put aside politeness and prioritise health and safety.
"Stop shaking hands for a while, is our advice," Dr Young said. "It might seem rude but avoiding unnecessary contact is a smart way of stopping the spread of the virus."
Based on overseas modelling, she has predicted up to 1.25 million Queenslanders will be infected with COVID-19 over six months, as many as 250,000 will need hospital care and 12,500 people could die.
Although she said most people infected with the virus would only develop "very, very mild symptoms", she called on all Queenslanders to play their part to help protect the state's vulnerable elderly by staying home if they are sick.
A leaked email sent to Metro South Health staff, dated March 13, advises health care workers with cold and flu-like symptoms to remain at home until their symptoms resolve.
Testing for COVID-19 is limited to those who have returned overseas in the past 14 days who develop a fever or respiratory symptoms and those who have had close contact with a confirmed case of the novel virus.
With Queensland performing more than 1000 tests for COVID-19 daily, Health Minister Steven Miles has announced two drive-through testing clinics will be trialled in Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast, and Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.
The drive-through fever clinics are also being trialled in South Australia and experts say they have proved effective in South Korea.
Mr Miles said they were designed to alleviate the workload of general practitioners and hospital emergency departments during an anticipated COVID-19 epidemic in Queensland.
The drive-through facilities will be based at the Caloundra Health Service's Minor Injury and Illness Clinic and Toowoomba's Baillie Henderson Hospital.
"People will be asked to remain in their vehicle, and then clinical staff wearing personal protective equipment will test temperature, oxygen saturation, pulse and respiration through the car window," Mr Miles said.
"If people meet the testing criteria, swabs will then be taken and the swabs sent for testing for COVID-19.
"These two drive-through clinics will operate as a trial to test their effectiveness and determine if they would work at other hospital and health service locations to cater for increased demand."
Infectious diseases expert Nigel McMillan, of Griffith University, described the drive-through clinics as "a brilliant idea".
"The Koreans started this. It makes a whole lot of sense both for the safety of medical workers and throughput," Professor McMillan said.
"You reduce a whole lot of exposure levels of everyone."
The Caloundra drive-through, which launched yesterday, will be open between 8am to 8pm seven days a week.
Toowoomba's drive-through will open in the carpark at the northern side of Toowoomba's Baillie Henderson Hospital tomorrow. It will be operational between 10am and 6pm seven days a week.
As Queensland begins to ramp up its response to COVID-19, aged care centres have also begun to put measures in place to protect their residents, expected to be the most vulnerable section of the community if they are infected.
Some aged care centres are banning visits from family members outside of Monday to Friday business hours. They have also put measures in place requiring visitors to have their temperature taken and to answer questions before being allowed to enter the facility.
For more information: 13 HEALTH.